HC Deb 09 February 1959 vol 599 cc850-1
37. Mr. Mason

asked the Minister of Supply what research is being conducted into infra-red detection systems of intermediate and inter-continental missiles by his Department.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

Beyond the statement that my Department is working on research into methods, including infra-red methods, of detecting ballistic missiles at long range, I regret that, on security grounds, there is nothing I can say.

Mr. Mason

Why not? Why should it not be possible to make a statement? Have we not the right to know? Is not this the possible answer to the detection of I.C.B.M.s and I.R.B.M.s and ought we not to be told how highly this ranks on the priority list of the Ministry's research projects?

Mr. Jones

The hon. Member, and all hon. Members, have a right to know a great many things, but, on the other hand, one has to balance that against the desirability of not allowing the enemy to know certain things. [HON. MEMBERS: "What enemy?"] A potential enemy, any enemy. For instance, if I were to give the hon. Member a full answer to this Question, I should be informing an enemy how to develop ballistic missiles so as to defeat any future defence measure.

Mr. G. Brown

Since the right hon. Gentleman has joined other Ministers in great secrecy in the House, had we not better ask Mr. Chapman Pincher if he can get the information from his sources and publish it in the Express?

Mr. Jones

If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that Mr. Chapman Pincher's sources of information are reliable, by all means let him ask Mr. Pincher.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the House has been told that the cost of the V-bomber is about £700,000? If we have been told the cost of the bomber, why cannot we be told the cost of these ballistic missiles?

Mr. Jones

The question has nothing to do with the cost of a ballistic missile.

Mr. Mason

Can the Minister say whether this will prove a fruitful line of research and will be worth while?

Hon. Members


Mr. Mason

In view of the very unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.